Pontypridd woman speaks out over suicide guilt

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Media caption'Don't feel guilty over family suicide,' campaigner says

A woman whose father killed himself has said families need to know that it is not their fault.

Abbie Pennell lost her 56-year-old father Stephen in June 2018.

The 21-year-old, of Pontypridd, explained that he had been out of work for about six months before he killed himself, and had been worried about money.

The Welsh Government said it had commissioned a review into bereavement care services.

Samaritans Cymru said better support must be provided to those affected by suicide.

In 2017, 360 people took their own lives in Wales.

Ms Pennell, who was very close to her father, said: "You shouldn't be made to feel guilty for what happened, because it can't be helped sometimes."

Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Abbie Pennell with her father Stephen, who killed himself last year

The nursery worker said she had considered moving in with her father to help with his money troubles.

"Sometimes I think, if only I'd moved in [with him]. But then I just think, we still would have been struggling together," she explained.

"Yeah he would have had company 24/7, but there would be more of a chance of maybe me finding him. Or he would have done it when I went to the shop."

She added that since she lost her father, she had seen much "about what I could have done, what I should have done, the signs that I should have seen.

"But none about that I shouldn't feel guilty because it's not my fault," she said.

"My father wasn't my responsibility in the aspects of who am I to control what he does?"

Mr Pennell was found hanged at his home.

Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Ms Pennell said she would tell her father that she is "not angry at all"

Ms Pennell explained that she already knew what had happened to him when he did not answer the phone: "I knew deep down."

Before her father was found, she explained they had rearranged their plans together.

"He said 'Ab I love you to bits' and I was like 'I love you too'."

It was the last time she spoke to him.

She said she would like to see more support for people who have lost someone to suicide, and said she struggled to find bereavement groups that focused on suicide.

"I couldn't really relate because he was taken too soon, but not because he didn't want to."

Asked what she would say to her father now, Ms Pennell said: "I think the main thing would be that I do miss you, and I'm not angry at all."

'Guilt, shame, rejection'

A Samaritans Cymru spokesperson said: "Every suicide is a tragedy which has a devastating effect on families, friends, colleagues and the wider community.

"We must provide better information and support to those bereaved or affected by suicide.

"Waiting lists for bereavement support are a major barrier to follow-up care in Wales. Resources such as 'Help is at Hand Cymru' must be more widely disseminated.

"The stigma around death by suicide can be isolating for the friends and families left behind with survivors of suicide loss experiencing very distinctive bereavement issues surrounding guilt, shame and rejection.

"We must promote talking as a form of help seeking and early intervention to reduce the stigma of bereavement by suicide. Talking about suicide reduces the risk."

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: "We remain determined to reduce suicide rates.

"As part of national and regional approaches to prevent suicide and self- harm, we have commissioned a full review of existing bereavement care services in Wales to help identify areas where further resourcing is needed."

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